Orange County Animal Services held its first drive-through rabies vaccine and microchip clinic for cats and dogs in the community on Saturday at the Park-and-Ride lot on Eubanks Road.
It was the most successful vaccine clinic it had ever held, Tiani Schifano, program coordinator at OCAS, said.
Schifano said OCAS administered 202 vaccines and gave out 24 microchips.
“Our largest clinic before was 150 vaccines, to compare," she said. "And we usually don’t give out more than 10 microchips per clinic."
OCAS holds low-cost rabies clinics every year. But, Schifano said the organization hasn't held one in nearly two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rabies can be a fatal virus for cats and dogs, and the county has long-urged pet owners to stay up-to-date on vaccines.
Melissa Baddour, a veterinary health care technician at OCAS, said getting the rabies vaccine and boosters after infection is life-saving for pets, and it can also save owners money that would be spent on treatment.
“The rabies vaccine for sure is one of the most important vaccines that pet owners can give their pets,” Baddour said.
In North Carolina, all cats and dogs over 4 months old are required to be vaccinated for rabies. At its drive-through clinic, Orange County Animal Services offered the vaccines for $10 and pet microchips for $35.
Both one-year and three-year rabies vaccines were offered. A previous one-year vaccine is required in order for an animal to receive a three-year vaccine.
Andrea Wade, the lead veterinary health care technician at OCAS, organized the clinic. She said in an email that the event was a beneficial opportunity to educate the community on spaying and neutering their pets.
“There were lots of people who actually requested information on getting their animal spayed and neutered, and that’s one of our goals at OCAS,” Wade said.
The clinic also translated information for Spanish-speaking community members who attended. Baddour, who identifies as Latinx, said she did not have this information growing up and it was important to make information accessible to Orange County's Latinx communities.
“For me, it was really hard to try to find those resources when my mom didn’t know how to speak English,” Baddour said. “I was able to help our Spanish speakers understand all of the information that we needed and where they can get resources that we offer, and I hope they can go out and help more of the Latinx community find those resources.”
The clinic had several community volunteers, like UNC sophomore Sarah Gress, who assisted in directing the flow of traffic.
Gress said she began volunteering with Orange County Animal Services in the summer of 2021, when there weren’t many on-campus activities available due to COVID-19.
She said new volunteers with Orange County Animal Services initially start assisting with animal socializing, cleaning and other tasks on the adoption floor. Cat socializing was how she got her start as a volunteer and her service reminded her of her two cats back home.
“When I go in and try to socialize some of the more timid cats, it reminds me of when (my cats) were little and we had to get them adjusted to the family,” Gress said.
As OCAS is now offering services such as the drive-through rabies clinic that it hadn't during the height of the pandemic, the organization is now recruiting volunteers.
Schifano said OCAS will be accepting new volunteers once the sign-up link on their website is reinstated in the coming weeks. She said they hope to have another vaccine clinic before the end of June.
Baddour said the clinic on Saturday couldn’t have been as successful without the community’s support.
“Thank you to everyone who came to support the shelter and take part in this great resource that we offer in Orange County,” she said. “We hope we can continue giving back to our community and if they have any questions, come to animal services. We are always here to help.”
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.